The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday raised a travel health notice for Thailand to a level two alert, suggesting travelers practice enhanced precautions against Zika virus infection and pregnant women should postpone travel to the area.
The agency said the decision was made after the WHO on Friday last week listed Thailand as a country with indigenous Zika cases.
The outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil last year has continued to spread worldwide, the agency said, adding that its diseases monitoring data showed that at least 36 regions — mainly in South and Central America and the Caribbean — have reported indigenous cases.
Although the link with the Zika virus has yet to be confirmed, cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome and a serious birth defect known as microcephaly — in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected — have soared in six nations and areas, including Brazil, since the outbreak of the Zika virus, it said.
The agency suggested that pregnant women and women who are planning pregnancies postpone travel to Zika outbreak areas, including Thailand, and travelers to these areas are advised to prevent contracting the virus by avoiding mosquito bites.
Similar to dengue fever, the Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through mosquito bites, and common symptoms include fever frequently accompanied by a maculopapular rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, as well as headaches, muscle pain or retro-orbital pain.
Infections in pregnant women are suspected of leading to still births or causing microcephaly in fetuses.
As the Lunar New Year holiday ended yesterday, the agency said people who have traveled to known Zika virus outbreak regions should look out for signs of infection in the two weeks after returning to Taiwan and seek medical attention as soon as possible if they feel ill.
The agency has informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and related agencies about the travel notice.